Two Essential Literacies

(This article follows The Burden And The Gift Of Culture in the FS Main Thread.)

There are two essential literacies (in the sense of basic competences) that we need in order to understand ourselves, our culture, and our world in the 21st century:


That’s the basic message of this article, but let me fill in a bit more of the story.

hOS literacy

In the The Human Operating System, I homed in on the part of our innate human nature that is most important for understanding culture. That’s a helpful start, but if we are going to make real use of the idea of the human operating system (hOS), we need to turn that idea into a practical methodology. We need to develop a working understanding of our human operating system and how it functions. I think of that working understanding as hOS literacy.

Many facets of culture are built on the hOS (like language), so hOS literacy will serve us well in understanding culture as well as understanding human nature. It is an essential literacy for the practical use of the culture-as-interface framework.

Systems literacy

In addition, if we are to make full use of the culture-as-interface framework, we also need to address the other side of the context of culture, i.e. the wider world.

From the perspective of any one culture, the wider world is best understood as a system of systems — climate, natural resources, world economy, world population and so on. So the second essential literacy is systems literacy.

Cultures also have many aspects that are best understood as systems (political, economic, social, etc.), so systems literacy will serve us well in understanding culture as well as understanding the wider world.

Working together

Thus hOS literacy will provide us with the language and frameworks to understand how we as humans work. System literacy will provide a comparable basis for understanding how the world works. And together these two literacies will enable us to understand culture — how it works and how it might successfully change.

Once we have these two literacies internalized as working tools (Stone 2), we can use them to better understand where we are in the flow of history (Stone 1), the nature of our connections to each other (Stone 3), the characteristics of a life well led (Stone 4), whole-system economics (Stone 5), whole-system governance (Stone 6) and the practical how-to of cultural change (Stone 7). So these two literacies form a crucial basis for all of the other Foundation Stones.

Robert Gilman, March 11, 2013

Do you see ways this article could be improved? If you do, please let me know.

(The next piece in the FS Main Thread is Meet Your Mind – Introduction.)